Ever had someone tell you that their restaurant experience transported them back to a certain country or reminded them of a specific memory? That’s how I feel whenever I enter Casa Lisboa, but instead, I reminisce about eating by the sea on a balmy evening, with a warm breeze passing through.
While Casa Lisboa isn’t new to the dining scene, their relocation has meant more than simply moving. The interior and menu have had a serious revamp from their old LKF Tower days. The old-fashioned decor is gone, replaced with a calm, intimate, blue-bedecked interior, away from the honking taxis on Wyndham Street.
The restaurant is beautiful during the daytime, with large, floor-to-ceiling windows bringing in natural light, with the evenings becoming more intimate. It was still early in the evening when I arrived and the restaurant was quiet before the dinner rush hour.
I was greeted with a glass of smooth red wine, ready to feast on some delicious Portuguese dishes. Casa Lisboa’s menu is sophisticated. Some of the dishes have a contemporary touch while incorporating traditional cooking techniques. This type of cuisine has become a trend amongst Hong Kong restaurants and bars.
While a contemporary aesthetic has gone into the food, some of the eatery’s traditional dishes such as bacalhau (salted dried cod) and suckling pig remain. I consider myself a fangirl everytime I order one of these dishes. I guess there’s a risk in churning out traditional recipes like these – perhaps the food can be judged for being boring – but that’s not happening at Casa Lisboa. The rebrand has dialled into quality, making these dishes all-time classics.
The Atlantic swordfish tartare ($158) and Kenyan bean and green asparagus tempura ($80) were packed with freshness and colour. The tempura was one of the most playful dishes I’ve encountered this year, with tempura used in Portugal long before becoming known as a Japanese cuisine staple.
There’s a comforting and wonderful oxtail pie ($195), slow-cooked with courgette and Aragonez wine from Portugal. Casa Lisboa’s pies are just as satisfying even while displaying creative twists, like adding white truffle cream on the side.
Larger courses are made for sharing. The baked sea bream assada ($420) and lamp chops a moda da quinta ($290), taking on a homey and wholesome presentation, were more delicious than my first impression judging their names on the menu. Salty, ocean-fresh sea bream was served whole in a baked dish under whole tomato, onion, leek and bell pepper. The lamb pulled apart into tender chunks that came off the bone with flavours of earthy thyme and rosemary, brandy and cumin, leaving us with a warm aftertaste.
A little less thrilling was the octopus rice with octopus tempura ($280). There was nothing bad about the dish – the ingredients were fresh, the octopus was tender – but the rice just didn’t seem as exceptional. I’d probably skip it because it felt like a repeat of eating the Kenyan beans… but with fried rice.
The flap steak Preguinho ($298) was the last dish to try, along with the lighter roasted peach with muscatel ($85) for dessert. Sometimes the simplest dishes are not only the best to eat but also best saved for last. I haven’t had Preguinho since I was in London. Tender beef slices were presented in a line, served with in-house-baked muffin bread. The mustard sauce was left on the side to give the sandwich a spicy kick and complement the well-seasoned meat. For Casa Lisboa’s new dessert, the flavour of cinnamon fared well with the muscatel yoghurt Chantilly cream and sweet, juicy peach.
While Casa Lisboa is the one of the most well-known Portuguese restaurants in Hong Kong, the menu mixes it up with the introduction of new dishes that bring colour and a maritime influence to our concrete-jungle dining scene. There’s always a welcoming, laid-back atmosphere at any time of the day. While there are a few chefs who begin a restaurant with their own personal journeys, Casa Lisboa keeps its story traditionally intact – heralding the flavours of its mother country.
2/F, Parekh House, 63 Wyndham Street, Central, 2905 1168
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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